Which animal has the saddest expression?

Straw makes pigs look happy

GÖTTINGEN How does the agriculturally ignorant consumer perceive the keeping of animals in stables? A study has looked at the question.

by Steffen Robens


In a study, scientists from the Universities of Göttingen and Bolzano examined how consumers perceive photos of animals. In an online survey, they showed 1,019 Germans photos of a happy and a seemingly unhappy pig, each retouched in a stable with straw litter or with slatted floor. When evaluating the study, it became clear that the condition of the stable has the greatest impact on consumer perception.

The pig in a stable with straw litter is perceived more positively than a pig on the usual slatted floor. “In comparison, the straw barn is rated as much more natural and animal-friendly. The pig's happy or sad expression doesn't change that, ”said the lead author Prof. Dr. Achim Spiller from the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at the University of Göttingen. The slatted floor, on the other hand, is always perceived as very problematic. A stable that is perceived as positive is not rated worse, even if a "sad" pig is standing in it with its head bowed and ears hanging. The results will help to understand how the public rates animal husbandry systems.

The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE and can be viewed there in English. The Federal Agency for Food and Agriculture funded the study as part of the project “Social Lab - Farming Animal Husbandry in the Mirror of Society”.
Source: agrarzeitung.de / dfv media group